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MGM Studios DVD presents
Broadway Danny Rose (1987)

"My hand to god, she's gonna be at Carnegie Hall. But youˇI'll let you have her now at the old price, okay? Which is - which is anything you wanna give me. Anything at all."
- Danny Rose (Woody Allen)

Review By: debi lee mandel  
Published: October 29, 2001

Stars: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Nick Apollo Forte, Sandy Baron
Other Stars: Corbett Monica, Jackie Gayle, Morty Gunty, Will Jordan, Howard Storm, Jack Rollins, Milton Berle, Michael Badalucco
Director: Woody Allen

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG for (some mature humor)
Run Time: 01h:24m:26s
Release Date: November 06, 2001
UPC: 027616860446
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ A-A-A- D

DVD Review

In Broadway Danny Rose, Woody Allen turns his lens on his "family," the borscht-belt comics he came up with in the 1950s and 60s. He twills the heirs of vaudeville entertainmentˇanimal acts, magicians, ventriloquists, aging songsters and third-rate comediansˇtogether into a tender-hearted homage to the veterans of the Catskills circuit on the downside of their heyday.

Allen, ever the reluctant exhibitionist, displays a rare humility in the humanity he gives to the title character, a two-bit talent agent with a heart of gold, down on his luck. Not that he was ever a success: every act he has ever handled that had a chance to make it, left him in the wings. A failed comic in his own right, he knows what his clients suffer and carries them long after their shtick is pass╚. Danny is pass╚, too, but still gives his allˇgai gezundt, as my Nana would say.

"Remember Danny Rose? He was handling an actor and a one-legged tap dancer. It was his normal handling. Always the best." ˝ Comic in restaurant (Sandy Baron)

Allen builds this little cinema ř clef with his usual stylistic innovation. The film opens in a neighborhood delicatessen where, it seems, old comics go to die. A swarm of real show-biz veterans, beginning with Corbett Monica and Morty Gundy, populate a table for an evening, comparing jokes and swapping stories. Someone throws out the name Danny Rose, and Sandy Baron claims to have "the best Danny Rose story," and thus begins our tale through the flashback memories of these washed-out entertainers.

Danny manages to book his best client, the waning (and widening) cantante, Lou Canova (Forte), at the Waldorf, just as the nostalgia craze takes off. Danny runs into Milton Berle, who happens to need a singer to open for him at Caesar's Palace, so Danny convinces him to check out Lou's act. The singer insists that his mistress be present for the performance, so Danny, against his better judgement, drives to Jersey to get her. What ensues is a wild adventure for the meek little manager at the hands of one Tina Vitale (Farrow), a Mafia widow who does nothing without first consulting her neighborhood psychic.

Finally, Farrow gains my attention. Disguised in a large blonde bouffant, oversized shades and tight-fitting bimbowear, she loses herself (and her Woody-ness) in an outrageous caricature of Jersey femininity. But this vehicle is all Woody, and in the most charming ways. He is still a neurotic nebbish, but Danny Rose is a mensch: a decent, ultimately loveable guy with an intrinsic need to do good by others, even at his own expense. In this case, he literally risks life and limb, which provides for some sillyˇteetering on slapstickˇmoments that are highly entertaining. He and Farrow, bound together, shimmying out of their ropes, is a scene that recalls some of his earlier, more absurdist comedies; too bad Farrow's sense of physical comedy isn't up to the task. Makes one wish Diane Keaton never met Warren Beatty - sigh.

Nick Apollo Forte embodies Canova, the crooning Lothario with a disproportionate ego ("When I'm out there singing, I can feel the women mentally undressing me."), and actually wrote the songs he performs. The film's raconteurs, Sandy Baron (Seinfeld 's irregular curmudgeon, Jack Klompus) and pals irrevocably set the era and tone, underlining, again, Allen's impeccable talent for casting. And look for a young Michael Badalucco (The Practice's Jimmy) at the lawn party.

Nominated for best director and screenplay, Broadway Danny Rose is a universal salute to those circuit schleps who carried the baton to the next generation of stand-up comedians and warm-up acts, and the plaid-clad agents who coddled them.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 aspect ratio, MGM provides Broadway Danny Rose with a beautiful transfer of the original black & white image. The image is sharp and contrast is excellent, with a broad grayscale and good shadow detail. As with the others in this third series of The Woody Allen Collection, there is no detectable digital enhancement. There is some grain, but not to the point of distraction. Continues the quality of all MGM Allen releases thus far.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: English mono is an Allen standard, and it comes over well here. Dialogue is clear at all times and the music is even in volume; the track has survived well and suits the quality of the image. A French mono track is offered as well, and although the dubbing is more obvious here than in others in the collection, the aural quality matches its English cousin. Good clean fun.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Single-fold booklet
Extras Review: Here is one case where bios for the cast would have truly enhanced the feature. As this older generation of comics bows out, it would be a fitting tribute to have their careers highlighted and remembered. While I'm sure my father could fix a name to every face around that table, I could only pick out three with any confidence. A sad opportunity missed on this one, Woody.

Black-bordered white subtitles in French, Spanish and yes, again, English play within the image.

The original trailer, which encapsulates the comedy nicely, is offered in 1.85:1 and is in good shape.

16 chapter-stops falls a bit short for the run time. A single-fold booklet with production notes and various Woody-isms is included as standard fare for the collection.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments


"I want to say one thing, and I don't mean to be didactic or facetious in any manner, but - ."

Broadway Danny Rose is a charming little film that might just win over those who trace a misbegotten line between The Front and Annie Hall, and never look back. Allen, as the Eternal Optimist, is a pleasure to behold: grab this DVD and discover how frozen turkey can bring naches to your life.

 


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